Several years ago, I was assigned to work on a project writing help documentation for a printer driver that supported then-new Windows Vista. My main responsibility was to update old instructions to accommodate Vista changes. Everyone on the software development and product planning teams agreed that this would be quick work that could be fast-tracked.
I thought it sounded like an easy job, and I'd done such things before for older flavors of Microsoft Windows. After all, Windows is Windows, right? The Start menu will always exist in some form; there will be a control panel of some sort and so on.
But, as the cliche goes, the devil's in the details.
To be somewhat neutral about what was an unpleasant learning experience, I'll put it this way: Sometimes really small changes can wreak havoc on your workload and productivity.
Here's the prime example: One minor change among the many more significant differences between the much-maligned Vista and its predecessors was the switch from the icon-and-text presentation of the Start menu to a wholly graphic-based method using a stylized Windows logo. Where we had always simply instructed users to "click Start" to perform certain tasks, we now needed to reflect this image-driven way of presenting the Start menu. Where Windows saw an opportunity to shoot for Apple-like iconic ubiquity (think Apple menu versus the Start menu), we saw potential for confusion for the end user.
This may sound trivial but, for the technical writer tasked with updating several hundred Help menu topics for a multi-function printer driver, a change like that can make for extra work. This was work we hadn't adequately planned for in the schedule because we didn't foresee the small changes or the impact that they would have across the product. While not a show-stopper, it wasn't an ideal situation, either. We made adjustments late in the game, but we made our deadline.
Fast forward to now and Windows 7 is the talk of the IT town. Most reports indicate that the OS is an improvement over Windows Vista, whose bad reputation wasn't entirely deserved but could not be shaken.
Is your organization ready to make the transition to Windows 7? Do you have a migration strategy in place? Do you know what changes are coming so you don't lose time getting up to speed? Use the tools and templates in the Knowledge Network to learn what's new for Windows 7 and develop strategies for the transition. Even small changes can make a big difference. Be ready for them.
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